I was walking down the hallway to my apartment, wondering what to write for this acknowledgment letter. I knew it had to have some relation to the Solemnity of Christ the King, but was unsure what to say. Suddenly the Holy Spirit strikes, and I thought: “Kingdom of Bhutan.”
Now you may wonder what is so special about that Kingdom. It’s not well-known on the world stage. But there is one thing that makes it totally unique compared with every other country in the world: the leadership of that country pays a lot of attention to the Gross National Happiness of its people. Really, this is for real. The GNH Index is based on 9 factors: psychological well-being, standard of living, good governance, heath, education, community vitality, cultural diversity and resilience, use of time, and ecological diversity and resilience. In the 2015 report, a total of 91.2% of Bhutanese were narrowly, extensively, or deeply happy. 43.4% were extensively or deeply happy.
I wonder how the United States would fare. How about the Church? Would the leadership of either entity whole-heartedly embrace a Gross National Happiness Index?
I know one leader who would. We’re celebrating him this coming weekend, the Solemnity of Christ the King. Look again at the components of the Index two paragraphs ago. Wouldn’t it be true to say that these are very much Gospel values, even though the great majority of Bhutanese are Buddhist?
The Kingdom of Heaven is rooted deep in your heart and mine. It manifests itself every time we treat others and ourselves according to the principles of the GNH. Happiness doesn’t come with the all the other indexes that are out there, since they are heavily focused on economic activity. May Christ our King help us on our way to a deeper and more profound happiness.